John Wyndham wrote a short story, "Confidence Trick", about a London Underground train which takes its passengers to Hell. The story was included in his book Jizzle. In the story, after an unusually long Underground journey from central London, this happens to the train:

The light grew brighter still, the speed dwindled, and presently they were running into a station. They leaned forward to catch the name, but could see no plate on the wall. Mrs Branton, on the other side, suddenly craned across.

There!’ she said. They turned quickly, but not soon enough.

‘It was something Avenue, or Avenue something,’ she said.

‘Well, we’ll soon find out now,’ Mr Forkett reassured them.

The passengers then see a red demon carrying a trident and net. It makes everyone get off the train, and they end up on the platform. The protagonist, Henry, then sees a station sign:

Henry glanced about. The dim rosy light was strong enough for him to see and read the station’s nameplate.

‘Something Avenue!’ he repeated under his breath. Tch-tch!’

Mrs Branton overheard him, and looked at it.

‘Well, if that doesn’t spell “Avenues”, what does it spell?’ she demanded.

Can anyone think what it does spell? My guess is that it's something to do with Heaven, but I can't think what, and the train is in Hell anyway. I've never been able to work this out, and I first read the story as a teenager.

1 Answer 1


One assumes that it said Avernus, which is Latin for "Hell"

  • 3
    Wyndham, presumably studied Latin at Bedales. He uses it with moderate regularity in his books and short fiction; bedalesschools.daisy.websds.net/…
    – Valorum
    Nov 21, 2022 at 1:01
  • 15
    In the times Wyndham was writing most well-educated Englishmen would have known some Latin. Nov 21, 2022 at 3:50
  • Yes. And, for the same reason, a fair amount of poetry, and been able to compose their own. I think the verse at the top of gritinthegears.blogspot.com/2010/03/… was written by Wyndham, for The Kraken Wakes. Nov 21, 2022 at 5:12

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